Go to the drawing/sketching materials section of any art supply shop, and you'll notice that there are a LOT of pencil options to choose from. There's eight packs, twelve packs, and even twenty packs of graphite pencils ranging from soft to hard, 'low end' brand to 'high end' brand. This can probably be a bit overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Pardon my Morpheus, but what if I told you that it only requires FOUR graphite pencils to create STUDIO QUALITY COMPOSITIONS? It's true! 2B: You want to start off your composition with a nice medium tone, and a 2B is the perfect amount of value for the task. (Fact: 2B is easily going to be the most-used pencil you're going to have in your collection. Unless your artistic calling is to create hand-drawn posters for your cousin's death metal band. Then you might be going a little bit darker, just a guess.) 7B and 8B: These pencils will create the perfect amount of dark contrast to the first two. (You could even try out a 9B if you really want to create a blackest black that will make your composition pop.) 6B: If you skip from 2B to a 7B or an 8B, there's going to be a really strange contrast that's too strong for times you're trying to achieve a more natural gradiation. Granted, you can go into the Hs for projects, but in my experience, I haven't used my Hs enough to consider it a worthwhile investment. You can also go for a 9B or even an Ebony pencil, but I've found that when you get that dark, your composition gets a little strangely reflective and leaves undesirably shiny spots in your drawing. I hope this helps some of you beginning artists out there out! Happy drawing!